Over one hundred years ago, the first forms of auto glass began to emerge in response to demand from consumers that wanted protection from wind and precipitation. At the time, the automobile was a luxury for those who could afford it, which made auto glass more of a convenience option than anything else. As the nature of driving changed, automobiles became more powerful and safety was given greater consideration, laws and regulations began to shape how auto glass must perform under even the most difficult of circumstances. The result of this century of progress is one where auto glass can now provide consumers with more protection and convenience than ever before.
One term that has been gaining traction in this industry is “smart glass”. While it may seem at first that glass itself cannot be intelligent, there are several different ways that its level of protection and convenience can be augmented with various forms of technology. If you own a new vehicle, then they’re most likely some form of smart glass already included in its construction. What exactly is smart glass and what are some examples of this? We’ll discuss this in the following article so that you can be aware of your options when purchasing a new vehicle or replacing your existing auto glass.
You may be familiar with this technology in a much more rudimentary fashion: your rear-view mirror. For quite some time, the ability to toggle a switch on your rear-view mirror and dim the mirror has made it easier to drive at night – especially in urban areas where headlights can pose a distraction issue. These days, however, rear-view mirrors on newer model automobiles will automatically dim when a certain amount of light is exposed to its surface, helping you seamlessly navigate traffic without issue. In addition to this, some higher-end automobiles now feature windows and windshields that will do the same, making it easier to see and drive in the daytime and at night.
Windows That Repair Themselves
Another interesting development over the past few years are windows and windshields that can repair small amounts of damage sustained to their surfaces. This type of smart glass utilizes various nanoparticles and polymers to sense when a surface has been damaged and can shift its structure to begin filling in the damaged area bit by bit. It should go without saying that these types of windows cannot repair large amounts of damage, but scratches, dings, and chips may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to this type of technology. The costs of self-repairing windshields and windows are still quite high, though, so you may not find this on a newly purchased vehicle for at least a few more years.
Announced back in 2007 by scientists at MIT, self-cleaning windshields have yet to make a big impact but soon will revolutionize the auto glass industry. The first types of this auto glass debuted featured multiple layers that can repel water and dirt, conduct currents through its transparent interface, and sense when inclement weather is present. Whenever rain or other forms of precipitation begin falling, the windshield can activate and automatically repel these substances from your line of sight. Because of this, windshield wipers may soon become a thing of the past, as various forms of smart glass continue to apply pressure to the industry’s innovation.
Rain Detection Systems
This is perhaps the most common form of smart glass that is present in today’s automobiles and can drastically help determine when and how to use your windshield wipers. Precipitation detection systems can sense when ice, rain, or snow begins to make contact with the windshield and will determine the appropriate speed at which to activate your windshield wipers. We have all struggled with adjusting our windshield wipers’ speed when the intensity of rain or snow changes, but these types of systems will do all of the thinking for you. Ultimately, we expect that every new car system will include this feature within just a couple of years.
Benefits of Smart Glass
There are a number of subtle benefits and advantages to these types of smart glass, many of which will save drivers money and make them more comfortable during their commutes. Auto-dimming glass, for instance, can recognize when it is hot and dim the windows to reduce the need for air conditioning. This will save consumers in fuel costs and make for a more comfortable interior.
Another example is the revolutions that are occurring when it comes to weight reduction. This too can reduce the amount of fuel that vehicles require in order to operate. A variety of other smart sensors and computer chips can be embedded seamlessly into the auto glass in order to provide analysis and monitor car systems in such a way that maintenance and fuel costs are further reduced.
As technology continues to become cheaper and smaller, we no doubt will continue to see an array of applications come into play. What this means for driving is that smart glass will revolutionize our driving experience, with it being likely that audio and video applications also making prominent gains in this industry. From smart mirrors and windows to windshields that clean and repair themselves, the sky is the limit when it comes to the future of auto glass.